Definitive proof that design matters

Paul Boag

It is not unusual for usability experts to claim that aesthetics are not important. If a site is usable that is all that matters. However, that is simply not true – design matters.

When a usability expert wants to get some attention they post about how good design doesn’t really matter and its all about ease of use. They are wrong, design matters.

What they should be saying is that creating a usable experience is the first priority and that aesthetics follows that, but then again that doesn’t make such a good headline.

In fact even the above statement isn’t always true. Sometimes the aesthetics are even more important than the usability. It just depends on the site.

Slot machines prove that design matters

Take for example slot machines. Essentially a slot machine is a random number generator. If a usability expert created a slot machine it would consist of a single button and either the word win or lose would appear when the button was pressed. In fact, you could probably do away with the button!

Slot machine designed by a usability expert
This is what a slot machine would look like if designed by a usability expert.

Of course that wouldn’t be a very engaging experience. Slot machines are all about the design as the video below explains. So lets do away with black and white statements like “design doesn’t matter” and instead recognise that every situation is different.

Discover just how much design influences players of slot machines.

“Slot Fruit Machine” image courtesy of